Transform a Tree Stump into a Unique Side Table

Transform a Tree Stump into a Unique Side Table

Bringing the Outdoors In: A DIY Tree Stump Side Table Journey

Have you ever browsed your favorite home decor stores, longingly eyeing those enchanting natural wood creations, only to balk at the hefty price tag? Well, my friends, I’m about to let you in on a little secret – you can create your own stunning tree stump side table for just a fraction of the cost.

It all started a couple of years ago when these rustic, one-of-a-kind side tables started popping up everywhere. I was smitten the moment I laid eyes on them, but my wallet wasn’t quite as enthusiastic. I mean, $249 at West Elm? No thank you! That’s when the gears in my mind started turning. I knew I could recreate this look myself, and for a whole lot less.

The Hunt for the Perfect Stump

The most important and, let’s be honest, most difficult part of this project is sourcing the right tree stump. Now, I know what you’re thinking – how hard can it be to find a tree stump? Well, let me tell you, it’s not as simple as it seems. You can’t just grab the first hunk of wood you come across and call it a day.

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I was lucky enough to spot a promising piece of wood out at my mom’s acreage. The family was always chopping down damaged or unwanted trees for firewood, and I knew this would be the perfect starting point for my project.

Now, the type of wood doesn’t necessarily matter, but you’ll want to make sure you like the overall shape and “bones” of the stump. After all, this is the foundation for your one-of-a-kind piece of furniture. And let me tell you, when you first see that raw stump, it’s hard to imagine how it will transform into a polished, show-stopping side table. But trust me, with a little elbow grease and some TLC, the end result is well worth the effort.

Let the Transformation Begin

So, with my trusty stump in hand, it was time to get to work. The first step was letting it dry out completely. Now, I know patience isn’t always my strong suit, but this part is crucial. Our stump had about 6 months to dry out fully, but a minimum of 1 month in an indoor environment is recommended. This ensures the bark is easy to remove and the process goes much more smoothly.

As I learned from a fellow DIY enthusiast, while the stump is drying, it may start to split. But don’t worry, that’s actually a good thing! Those natural cracks and splits add so much character to the final piece.

With the drying process well underway, it was time to dive into the actual transformation. Armed with an array of chisels, a hammer, and various sanding sponges, I got to work removing the bark and smoothing out the surface. Let me tell you, this step is not for the faint of heart. It can be a bit of a messy, laborious process, but the end result is so worth it.

Sanding, Sealing, and Smoothing

Once the bark was removed and any uneven surfaces were leveled, it was time to start sanding. I started with a coarse 60-grit sponge to strip away any remaining bark remnants and clean up the stump. Then, I moved on to the 80-grit to smooth out the edges and bevel them, ensuring a seamless feel.

As my fellow DIY blogger noted, the goal here is to have a completely smooth surface when you run your hands over it. So, I continued the sanding process, working my way up to the 120-grit and finally the 220-grit to achieve that ultra-refined, silky-smooth finish.

With the hard work of sanding behind me, it was time to seal the deal (quite literally). I opted for a satin finish Varathane, carefully following the directions on the can. Multiple coats were applied to the top and sides, allowing each layer to dry completely before moving on. And let me tell you, watching that natural wood grain come to life under the sealant was truly magical.

The Finishing Touches

The last step was to give the top of the stump one more light sanding to ensure it was as smooth as can be. I also gave the sides a quick once-over with the 220-grit sponge to clean up any drips or pooling of the sealant.

With a final vacuum and tack cloth wipe-down, my one-of-a-kind tree stump side table was complete. I have to admit, I was a little sad to part with it, as my family and I had grown quite attached. But I knew it was destined for greater things.

The timber building and woodworking company I created this for was the lucky recipient of my DIY masterpiece. And let me tell you, it fits right in with their cabin-inspired decor. As I like to say, it’s the perfect blend of nature and nurture.

Embracing the Imperfections

One of the things I love most about this project is the embrace of imperfections. Those naturally occurring cracks, splits, and knots in the wood add so much character and charm. It’s a far cry from the sleek, cookie-cutter side tables you’d find at your typical big-box store.

In fact, I’d argue that these “flaws” are what make this piece truly special. It’s a reflection of the tree’s unique history, a one-of-a-kind creation that you simply can’t replicate. And that’s the beauty of working with natural materials – every piece is inherently different, with its own story to tell.

A Labor of Love

Now, I won’t lie to you – this project isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s a labor of love, to be sure. But the sense of pride and accomplishment you’ll feel when you step back and admire your handiwork is worth every bead of sweat (and maybe a few choice words muttered under your breath).

As I mentioned in my previous post, I highly recommend having a few drinks on hand to make the process a little more enjoyable. And don’t forget to put down a big piece of cardboard or tarp to catch all that wood dust and debris – trust me, it makes cleanup a breeze.

A Gift from the Heart

In the end, I was lucky enough to give my tree stump side table as a wedding gift to some dear friends. I know they’ll treasure it just as much as I do, and I can’t wait to see it in its new home, nestled in their cozy reading nook.

But who knows, maybe I’ll have to make another one for myself. After all, I’ve got plans for a big, natural wood coffee table in the works. And you better believe I’ll be documenting that journey, too. After all, sharing the process and inspiring others is half the fun.

So, what are you waiting for? Grab a stump, a few tools, and let’s get to work! I promise, the satisfaction of creating your own one-of-a-kind piece of furniture is worth every ounce of effort. Happy DIYing, my friends!


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